NERC Announces its 2020 Environmental Sustainability Leadership Award Winners

October 23, 2020

The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) has announced its 2020 Environmental Sustainability Leadership Awards. Three outstanding programs in the Northeast were recognized, as well as one individual for lifetime achievement. Each of the winners was selected for their particularly high level of environmental achievement that supports NERC’s mission. Awards were given to:

  • Private Sector award – Urban Mining Northeast Pozzotive Plant
  • Advisory Member award – the American Chemistry Council for its research demonstrating whether flexible packaging collected loose in residential single-stream carts could be sorted into a commodity bale for reprocessing into recycled content products.
  • Public Sector award – Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) for its Boston Logan International Airport – Hydration Station Implementation and Liquid Diversion Collection Program.
  • Lifetime Achievement award – Liz Bedard

“This is the fourth year of NERC’s Environmental Sustainability Leadership Awards and we were once again impressed by the quality of the projects submitted for consideration,” commented Josh Kelly of Vermont, NERC Board Vice President.

Urban Mining Northeast Pozzotive® Plant – Private Sector award. This facility converts recycled glass feedstock into Pozzotive, a ground glass pozzolan that replaces up to 50% of the cement in concrete. Pozzotive® glass feedstock is created using recovered glass from MRFs. Using Pozzotive® in place of cement in concrete reduces CO2 on a near ton–for–ton basis. Currently operating in New York, they will be opening a Connecticut facility later this calendar year.

The American Chemistry Council – Advisory Member award is being recognized for its research to demonstrate whether flexible packaging collected loose in residential single-stream carts could be sorted into a commodity bale (known as rFlex) for reprocessing into recycled content products. The project was conducted in collaboration with several other NERC Advisory Members:

  • Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR)
  • Plastics Industry Alliance
  • Resource Recycling Systems (RRS)

For the pilot, Bucks County, Pennsylvania MRF was upgraded with a flexible plastic packaging recovery system using state-of-the-art optical sorters and peripheral equipment. This first of its kind pilot in the US, demonstrated that flexible plastic packaging can be collected loose in curbside recycling carts and successfully sorted at a MRF. The pilot met four of its five performance goals within one year, and progress towards the fifth continues to proceed.

Massport – Public Sector award, for its Boston Logan International Airport Hydration Station Implementation and Liquid Diversion Collection Program. Through a collaborative effort with the Transportation Security Administration, Massport terminal managers and facilities staff, and the Massport Sustainability team, a need was identified to add additional liquid collection bins at security lines and strategic locations within those lines at Logan’s terminals.

Because of this collaboration, 11 new liquid collection bins were added at security checkpoints. In addition, four water bottle filling stations were added after security checkpoints in Terminal A. These resources allow passengers to empty containers of liquid before they go through a checkpoint, and then refill their bottles on the other side and before boarding a plane.

The results of this two-part program include reducing the disposal of single-use plastic bottles by enabling the refilling of bottles after security, and the diversion of liquid from the waste stream helping reduce risk of worker injury and minimizes the risk of heavy bags breaking. This program has helped save more than 7.5 million single-use plastic bottles from the waste stream through 33 stations that exist throughout the airport.

Liz Bedard is being recognized with a NERC lifetime achievement award. NERC only occasionally recognizes individuals for lifetime contributions to the environment and sustainability, and this year we are privileged to recognize Liz. Among her many accomplishments are the creation of the APR Recycling Demand Champion program and the creation and launch of the Association of Plastics Recycler’s (APR) post-consumer resin certification program.

As Steve Alexander, President of APR, said, “it is not inappropriate to say that Liz has done more to expand the markets for recyclable plastics than any single individual over the past 13 years. Liz started the movement to create the infrastructure and outline the market demand to recycle plastics beyond PET and HDPE with her leadership of the APR Rigids Plastics Recycling Committee. Prior to founding that committee, the demand for the recycling of bulky rigids and polypropylene was not clear. She instituted a program to identify the market demand for polypropylene (PP) so that recyclers had certainty the market existed should they sort out the PP from their system. Today, more than 250 million metric pounds of recycled PP is in the marketplace, and growing every day. Because of Liz’s leadership, PP has joined with PET and HDPE as one of the most recyclable plastics in the marketplace.”

In addition, we’d like to recognize that Liz was one of NERC’s first Board members, serving for 10 years from 1990 to 2000.

Congratulations to all of the award winners.

NERC is a non-profit organization that conducts research, projects, training, and outreach on issues associated with source reduction, reuse, recycling, composting, and environmentally preferable purchasing.

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